Everyday Tech to Improve your Everyday Life
We are living in an age of convenience. Living has gotten easier and easier with businesses popping up as services to us to prevent us from having to move anywhere. We can get groceries delivered to our door, we can have cars come and pick us up from anywhere, we can order any item we could possibly want and have it delivered to our door in two days and if it takes any longer we get mad.
With that being said, all of this tech comes at a price. But with so many products and services available, it would be silly to miss out on the opportunity to take advantage of them all. So here are a few pieces of tech that I use on a daily basis that simply make my life easier. What’s even better, none of these items will break the bank. If you don’t have them already, now is the time.
1. Wireless earbuds
Everyone loves listening to something! I love the sounds of New York City, but I don’t love the sounds of the subway (apart from the performers in each station, those guys are amazing). So I really needed a pair of headphones to be able to block all the noise out and deliver a podcast or a few songs to help me through my day. I used wired headphones for a while, but I can’t tell you how many times they got caught on someone’s bag or on a railing and I had my headphones jarringly yanked out of my ears. I had to go wireless.
But there are a lot of wireless earbud options out there; Apple really paved the way with their incredibly convenient AirPods, but they’re out of my price range for what I’d be using them for; after all, I have a nicer pair of over ear headphones that I’ll use for more serious listening. I really just needed something convenient, easy to use, and a case that’s small enough to fit in my pocket without me noticing.
So I headed over to Amazon and looked through their options. As you’d expect, there’s a plethora of cheap options from brands you’ve never heard of and can’t pronounce. I found one with good reviews and with the features I wanted and got it.
For $30, the sound quality is more than I had hoped for and the earbuds make a nice seal to passively block out ambient sound. They pair easily; all you have to do is take them out of the case and start listening. To stop, simply put them back in the case that will charge them and you’re good to go. Thus far in my usage, I haven’t had either earbud die during my commute and workout (sometimes up to a couple of hours of continued usage). And then I’ll charge the case every couple of days. It’s so easy and even more convenient to transport than wired headphones.
That being said, they’re far from perfect. They lack the polish that sets premium brands apart. They must be manually paired if both headphones aren’t removed from the case, sometimes if I move my head in a certain way the left earbud will cut out, and the touchpad on the right earbud works probably only 20% of the time that I try to use it.
With that being said, for the $30 pricetag, I’m willing to weather these minor annoyances so I can take advantage of the convenience of the overall product. No matter your lifestyle, I can just about guarantee that you will appreciate having a pair of headphones like these.
2. Google/Apple/Samsung Pay
This one is huge.
I had resisted contactless phone payments for a while because I already had so much information on my phone it was the one thing that I didn’t want to include. But during an extended period of time that I spent in Europe where contactless payment is accepted just about everywhere, I decided to change my stance and put my card on my phone. It took me a few painless minutes and suddenly my world of payment had changed. I used contactless for everything. In so many instances where I’d already have my phone out doing something else, it was so easy to simply tap my phone to the terminal to pay for anything I might need.
Since coming back to the US and immediately putting my card on my new phone, I’ve noticed far more places that accept contactless payment. For my day-to-day life, the only time I have to use my physical card is to pay for a subway card or for a meal. Trader Joe’s, Walgreens, and just about any other shop accepts contactless payment and it’s wonderful. You can also attach rewards cards to it so I can do a quick double scan of my phone to the payment terminal to use my Walgreens card followed by my credit card. It’s so fast, so easy, and almost at a point where I no longer need to carry a card around.
3. Home Assistant
Okay Google, turn on the lights.
Google is almost certainly accumulating as much data as they can from you because of how readily they are giving these things away. I have two in my small apartment and I didn’t buy either one. Both were given out in some promotion Google was doing.
But most of the things Google can do, Alexa can too. Although during my time using both, I can say definitively that the speaker on Google’s smaller assistant is leagues above that produced by Amazon. Listening to music on Google’s small speaker is enjoyable as it produces a much louder and richer sound than you’d imagine. The Echo, on the other hand, sounds tinny and hollow.
But what’s important about these assistants is that they can make your life so much more convenient. With access to your Calendar, location, even contacts, the Google Assistant can make calls, tell you your events for the day, tell you the weather, your commute, tell you the news. Everything that you might need and even things you didn’t realize were useful.
Every day, rather than going to my dresser and then going back to my phone to check the weather, I simply ask Google what the forecast is while I’m picking up the clothes that I’m going to wear. News works similarly.
What really sends these systems over the edge though, is their ability to help you control your home. Home automation is the ultimate in modern convenience. But if you don’t have the money to rework your heating and air conditioning for use with your assistant, buy a few smart lights or smart plugs for $30 on Amazon and watch how much more convenient it becomes to come home. Turn on the lights as you’re walking in the front door with your hands full of groceries. Turn them off as you’re rushing out and carrying everything you need for the day. You can even set routines so the assistant will do certain things according to the command. For instance, turning on the lights and starting your favorite podcast when you tell your assistant that you’re home. You can even have the assistant connect to your smart tv to turn it off and on and put on your favorite show just by using your voice.
As modern life becomes more complex, it also becomes more convenient. Instead of worrying about this paradox or the vast, unknowable horizon of technology, just enjoy the comforts of a modern life.